Dennis Hutchings, a former member of the Life Guards regiment PA
Northern Ireland

Human rights case taken against British government over prosecutions of soldiers post-Troubles

The partner of veteran who was facing trial over a fatal shooting in Tyrone is taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights.

THE PARTNER OF a Troubles-era army veteran is taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming discriminatory treatment by the British Government.

Kim Devonshire, partner of Northern Ireland veteran Dennis Hutchings who died in October last year and had been facing trial over a fatal shooting in the 1970s, said she will “continue Dennis’ fight” and take a case to the Strasbourg court on “behalf of British Army veterans”.

Before he died, Hutchings took a case that veterans were being subject to discriminatory treatment in breach of the Human Rights Act to the European Court of Human Rights.

The 80-year-old, from Cornwall, died in Belfast last year after contracting Covid-19 while he was in the city to face trial over a fatal shooting in Co Tyrone in 1974.

He served in the British Army for 26 years and was posted to Northern Ireland during the Troubles in the early 1970s.

He was charged with the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham in Co Tyrone in 1974.

The former member of the Life Guards regiment had denied a count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent. 

Cunningham, 27, was shot dead as he ran away from an army patrol across a field near Benburb. 

Devonshire said she wants to continue the fight to “ensure fair treatment for veterans”.

She accused the UK Government of abandoning its veterans.

Speaking today, Devonshire said: “We were very much aware that this was not going to be a speedy procedure, but we sincerely hope and pray that it will be a fair one.

“We would ask that Dennis’ name be cleared, as was his dying wish, but more importantly that no other veteran should have to endure the pain, trauma and humiliation in their later years of such determined and unrelenting prosecutions.

“He fought for his country, but never dreamed he’d have to fight for his good name.”

Solicitor Matthew Jury said: “Dennis’ family are fighting for the human rights of British veterans in Strasbourg. Anyone who commits an unlawful killing should face justice.

“However, while terrorists have been granted effective amnesties from prosecution, British Army veterans have been targeted for prosecution in disproportionate numbers.

“Dennis’ fight will continue, because British veterans who served our country, surely deserve no less than a promise of fair treatment.”